After the health of your family and yourself, there’s probably nothing more important than a healthy credit score. A good credit score will provide anyone benefits in the form of access to credit with low interest rates, easier approval for renting a home, employment opportunities, and more.
For those very reasons, worrying about bad credit It's a common concern, especially since even seemingly harmless habits can wreak havoc on your financial reputation.
Here we will expose some everyday behaviors that could be damaging your credit score and offer tips for turning things around.
Ready to protect your credit? Dive in!
Habits That Ruin Your Credit Score
Let’s start with the basic one, and then go from there. Not checking your credit report regularly is the top mistake people make. Being unaware of yours can lead to missed errors or potential fraud that can negatively impact your credit score.
Paying Bills Late
Slipping into the habit of paying bills late may seem harmless in the short-term but it's one of those negative credit habits that can have long-lasting effects. Late payments often result in late fees and increased interest rates. Those are bad enough, but not paying on time leaves a mark on your credit report that’s hard to erase.
Credit card companies report missed or delayed payments to credit bureaus, adversely affecting your credit scores.
With the consequences extending up to seven years as per credit tracking practices, even a single instance of late payment gets noted down and reflected on your scoreboard.
Paying on time is not all about keeping your credit intact, it’s a habit that will lead you to make better financial decisions and improve your chances of success.
Having Too Many Credit Cards
Owning an excessive number of credit cards might seem like a financial safety net, but it can contribute to bad credit. Each card you keep open alters your debt-to-credit ratio.
Even if you regularly pay off your monthly credits, the more cards you have, the higher the chance for you to overspend or forget about paying them late. This behavior raises red flags for lenders who may view it as an indication of someone who takes a lot of risks and may deny future credit requests.
Before applying for cards, consider how it will impact your overall financial health based on your circumstances. After all, responsible use of a few cards is more comforting to creditors than having too many unused ones gathering dust in the wallet.
Carrying High Balances on Credit Cards
Carrying high balances on your credit cards can be detrimental to your credit score. When you accumulate large amounts of debt on your cards, it can negatively impact how lenders perceive your creditworthiness.
This is especially true if you have a limited credit history or only one credit card. It's important to avoid maxing out your credit card limit, as this can harm your creditworthiness.
Closing Old or Inactive Credit Cards
Closing an older account reduces the length of your credit history, which is an important factor in determining your creditworthiness.
Additionally, closing a card decreases your available credit and increases your debt-to-credit utilization ratio. This ratio compares the amount of debt you owe to the total amount of credit available to you. Maintaining a higher credit limit and a lower utilization ratio can improve your credit score.
Considering alternative options before closing these accounts is important as they could have lasting effects on your financial standing.
Improving Your Credit Score
So, you know what’s hurting your credit, but do you know how to stop it successfully? Here are some key tips.
First, check your credit report regularly from all three main reporting agencies. This will help you identify any errors or inaccuracies that could negatively impact your score.
Second, paying your bills on time and in full each month is crucial. Setting up due-date alerts can help ensure you never miss a payment. Additionally, paying off high balances on your credit cards can positively impact your credit utilization ratio.
How Long Until My Bad Credit Recovers?
You may already be well on your way to improving your financial habits, but the mark is already there. How quickly can you expect to start from square one?
Generally, it can take a few months to a year for you to see improvement in your credit. That’s only if you’re actively pursuing good credit habits. However, significant negative events could take a lot of years to recover. Bankruptcy is one of them.
If you have a bad credit history the best thing you can do is see the race to get a good credit as a marathon, not a sprint. Patience and persistence are crucial. Over time, your credit score will recover.
Avoiding these harmful credit practices is essential for maintaining a healthy credit score. You can improve your financial health by checking your credit report regularly, paying bills on time, and managing your debt responsibly.
Remember to be cautious about co-signing loans or leases and limit unnecessary credit usage. Taking control of your credit habits will protect your credit score and ensure a brighter financial future.